2012-12-12 / Letters

Merit goals could be part of supt.’s contract

I wonder how many taxpayers who live within the Freehold Regional High School District realize that the salary caps which were imposed on New Jersey superintendents two years ago by Gov. Chris Christie have a giant loophole which allows school boards to award a 14.99 percent merit pay bonus each year if the superintendent succeeds in implementing a series of goals laid out by the board at the beginning of each term?

In the case of the FRHSD, the superintendent, who is already making $177,500 plus benefits, can take home an additional $26,000 if he completes those tasks. Those goals are broken down into two categories: Quantitative and Qualitative. They are posted on the Nov. 26, 2012 school board meeting agenda on page 12, which can be found on the FRHSD website.

This is the only way the public is made aware of what these goals are. There is no prior explanation of what they mean, how they will affect the district and how much they will ultimately cost the taxpayers. The board approves them as a bloc with no public discussion. At the end of the year, the board then decides whether the superintendent has completed those goals and it has the opportunity to award all, some or none of the percentages related to each task.

The superintendent’s contract outlines the parameters of these goals. The question is, why aren’t these goals part of the initial job description of the superintendent?

The terms of his contract (also on the FRHSD website) are so vague in outlining his basic duties that there is no reason why the board can’t define the merit goals as part of his job description and save the district the extra money, which can be put to better use serving the students, especially when the state is projecting more than $30 billion in expenses for Sandy relief. We can be sure that state aid to the schools will suffer from these expenses.

I hope the board members exercise their discretionary power in approving or disapproving these goals more independently and take into account the taxpaying public which ultimately pays for these bonuses.

Leon Sirulnick

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